Hispanic professional society & diversity job fairs at NSHP.org

DELAND, FL -- When Sonia Salas parked her car at Saturday's Hispanic women's health fair, she had no child-safety seats for the two toddlers she brought in tow. But Salas and her husband, Filimon, left the fair smiling, their youngsters snug in two new car seats waving goodbye to firefighters who showed the parents how to use the essential safety equipment.

More than 25 percent of the Hispanic families who attended the community's first Dia De La Mujer Latina Health Fair, mostly Mexicans, had no child-safety seats for their young children, Volusia County Fire Services Lt. James Hindery said.

Car seats obtained through a state Department of Transportation grant were distributed at the fair at St. Peter's Catholic Church on New York Avenue, Hindery said.

Car seats and lessons on their use cost $10 each at the fair.

"I feel better now knowing my children are safe," Sonia Salas said in Spanish, shyly smiling. "There are many accidents and when car seats are not being used, children die."

The safety seats and information on preventive health-care services for Hispanic women in Volusia County were the main themes for the fair.

Also Saturday, pharmacies and health-care agencies provided free diabetes screenings and checks for blood pressure, vision, hearing, cholesterol and HIV, and mammograms -- tests that can make a difference for someone who may otherwise not seek those services, said Ana Bolanos, executive director of Alianza de Mujeres Activas (Alliance of Active Women).

Bolanos' agency and volunteers from the Orlando-based Hispanic Health Initiative and the Volusia County Hispanic Association invited organizations to provide the services at the fair.

The event was held on a day when most field workers in Northwest Volusia are off work and able to attend, said Maria Orta of DeLeon Springs, a homemaker who once was a ferncutter. Orta said she feared how a diabetes test she took might turn out, but she got good news.

"I have no sugar," she smiled, as she held her 3-year-old son. "I even got my husband, Jose Luis, to check his sugar."

More than 150 families attended the fair and more than 12 agencies presented information or services, said Zenaida Denizac, president of the Volusia County Hispanic Association.

"I believe we reached the women we were targeting," Denizac said. "But some were still shy about sharing health-related information."

Robert Sitler, a Stetson University professor who volunteered to translate at the HIV booth, said few people came by.

"It is a very private thing to talk about," Sitler said. "I guess health agencies should hook up with the Alliance of Active Women, a group that has gained the women's confidence."

But the turnout for the first fair is encouraging, said Fanny Ballester, the Hispanic Health Initiative's vice president.

"Studies show that Hispanics, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are more at risk in developing diabetes," Ballester said. "This fair has hopefully informed Hispanics here that services are available for them, either free or at a discounted rate."

Source: The Daytona Beach news

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